Sunday, December 02, 2007

With eyes closed

After a late meal this evening Bro. Juniper was telling of a trip long ago to Japan and while hiking in a mountainous area he came upon a small building and thought it to be a Buddhist place for meditation. It seemed deserted so he peeked inside and was surprised to find a Christian cross on the wall. Then he heard a voice, and not understanding Japanese, he quickly shut the door, feeling a bit guilty for trespassing, but coming toward him was an elderly Japanese fellow with a long white beard. He did speak English, much to Bro. Juniper's relief, and after bowing and a hardy handshake Bro. Juniper was ushered inside. He said the floor was some sort of stone, perhaps sandstone, and even though outside it was a warm and humid day, the stone floor was cool and a welcomed seat to enjoy a cup of green tea. Soon it became apparent that the elderly gentleman was most hungry for someone to share talk of the Bible with, and what Bro. Juniper remembers most was a discussion about the meaning of Matthew 6:22, and the gentleman's interpretation of "if therefore thine eye be single."

Matthew 6:22-24 The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness! No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

He explained to Bro. Juniper that the "eye be single" was the third eye of meditation, and he repeatedly touched his index finger to his forehead, emphasizing where the third eye is located. He went on with comparisons of Buddhist meditation, and even the Hindu concept of the inner eye. He said Jesus didn't use the plural "eyes" but the singular "eye" and how that means the inner eye and how Jesus was teaching how the inner eye guides the whole body to be light, to be pure. Bro. Juniper remained there for a few days, and quickly learned the discipline of awakening for pre-dawn meditation. He said he left with a greater desire to somehow wed the Eastern "inner-eye" meditation with his more traditional Christian meditative prayer. During this storytelling we all listened with keen interest, many of us nodding as though that is how we understand this scripture, but then Bro. Sedwick said he didn't agree. It was his understanding that in the 1st Century a common Hebrew idiom was "eye be single" or "good eye" (as well as various translations: "if your eye be clear" and "if your eye be whole" and "if your eye be healthy") and meant someone being generous. Someone with a "bad eye" was greedy. Then with a bit of deductive reasoning, Bro. Sedwich noted that Proverbs 22:9 reads, "The person who has a good eye is blessed, because he is generous and gives to the poor." And with a bit of finality in his voice, thumbed through his Bible and then read Proverbs 23:6, "Beware of the man with the evil eye, he knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing." Bro. Clarence then entered the discussion saying he can easily think of the meditative "inner eye" as being an eye that sees the light in the darkness, and therefore sees the true value of generosity and the ultimate inhumanity of greed. I nodding in agreement to that too as I departed for a short stroll in the now very chilly desert night. Then after a bit and with two eyes closed, I aimed my third eye to heaven. And something funny happened. Inside my head I imagined the Milky Way overhead and could only think of how generous God is to a mere human staring up with eyes closed. But still seeing.


jzr said...

streaming river of stars
with eyes closed
I count each one

Bro. Bartleby said...

And I thought I was the only blind one. Welcome!